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OUR DOGS AND CATS
MEET SOME OF OUR SMALL ANIMALS AND HEAR THEIR STORIES
We have many dogs and cats, a number of which originated from sad or unhappy backgrounds. Some were sick, being badly treated or were due to be put down if they had not found a home with us. Here at Nyanza we have always tried to do as much as possible to help animals in trouble, no matter what shape or size, and we have been repaid with wonderful friends and experiences.
Just walking around here you can feel that special atmosphere that is unique to the farm and what makes so many people and animals feel at home here.
Our newest arrivals can be seen on our Latest Additions page, but in the meantime we would like to introduce you to just some of our older resident friends.
We usually have a number of cats at any given time. Some of them live in the house with us while others take care of the stables and dairy. They work hard at doing public relations, helping monitor the riding lessons and occasionally contributing toward controlling the rodent population. If they are not busy with these tasks they can be found lounging on top of the saddles in the tack room supervising the tack cleaning or entertaining the children who have come to visit us.
Our two 'chosen' cats, Tayiki and Chi-chi, are both Tonkinese. They are the only cats we have at the moment that we intentionally acquired rather than them finding us. Tayiki is twenty years old now and one of our grand old ladies of the farm. Chi-chi is still young and full of mischief; she keeps Tayiki busy and doesn't allow her to feel old! Although it is always such a moral dilemma getting a cat that has not come from a shelter we have always had at least one Tonkinese on the farm. They are such unique characters and having adopted so many other welfare animals in proportion to the occasional purebreds it makes us feel a little less guilty about it. Chi-chi has also become great friends with Mia, one of our blind cats, and sometimes wears a collar with a bell so they can play wild games of catch together.
Shisa and Phinda were both from a shelter in SA and although we don't know their breeding they look a lot like old fashioned Siamese. No one wanted to adopt them and they were due to be put down. Both of them were very stressed and upset when they came to us but now form part of the welcoming committee at the main house. Shisa, which means 'hot' in siSwati, found her name because she was so difficult to talk to when she came; if you touched her you would get your fingers burnt! Phinda means 'again', as she started her life again after arriving at Nyanza as a very nervous and worried little cat. They have both been with us for many years now and are at least 15 or 16 years old that we know about; they could even be older.
Miss Ingwe came from another shelter and was also due to be put down as she had reached the end of her allotted time. She is a beautiful smoky tabby colour. We named her 'Miss Ingwe' as 'Ingwe' means leopard and she is one of the most courageous and cheeky cats to be found. She has amazing strength of character and has no qualms about making the horses detour around her if she is lying on the pathway in the sun, or walking into a room full of our dogs and sending them all out with one quick swipe of her paw. Visitors beware; she does also like to test the reactions of unwary humans! However she loves to help with the school visits, when we sometimes have up to a hundred children visiting the farm. She can be seen busily trotting amongst the children keeping them all in order and causing the occasional yelp from a dog if she feels they are getting in the way.
Katwan and Kattoo were both from the same shelter and had also reached death row. We have lots of black cats; they are not easy for shelters to home and even the two cute little kittens were unwanted. They have now grown into gorgeous glossy cats. Katwan is a pure gleaming black while Kattoo is an unusual dark charcoal tabby. Kattoo is renowned for his loud happy purr. When you enter a room you can hear where he is before you see him. Katwan also specialises in helping with the school visits. She loves to escort the groups of children as they visit the various animals, running along next to them with her tail held high.
Ziare was handed in with her kittens. Her kittens all found homes but no one wanted her. She looks as if she has some exotic blood in her pedigree but even after a personalised advertising campaign on her behalf by the shelter no one took her and her time ran out. We could not turn her away. She is exceptionally sweet and gentle and loves to lie up high on the saddles in the tack room, or find a nice unobtrusive place in the sun to quietly watch the world go by from.
Scratch came to us as an elderly lady from the big city who had just recovered from a broken pelvis. Although the pelvis was healed she was unwanted by her humans and facing a black future with no home to go to. She is amazing. At the age of at least thirteen she adapted from being a city cat and now is having a wonderful time living on the farm. The desk in our office has become her exclusive domain and she works hard helping with the paperwork.
Quito was another one who came in after recovering from a broken pelvis, but she was a kitten although by co-incidence also black and white. She was handed in at the Vet Clinic by a couple who had found her injured and wild. The vet didn't have the heart to put her down and cared for her until she was better. Although her pelvis healed well she was very feisty and no one wanted her... so of course she came here.
Dumpy was a feral cat who came to us with her three kittens; Willbe, Maybe and Shallbe. They were wild, hissing and spitting, parasite ridden and starving. Now they are beautiful and elegant cats; Maybe and Willbe look so alike they could almost be identical twins. They all still remember their origins however and work hard at controlling our rodent population.
Genetcat, Mr Softee, PSC and Swivel were another group of abandoned kittens that were found in dreadful condition... Amongst other problems they had mites in their ears, which caused secondary complications. Three of them unfortunately ended up with curled ears as a result but it does give them quite a cute look! Perhaps they could be called the 'Swazi Curl' cat breed instead of the 'American Curl' or 'Scottish Fold' breeds that are commonly known...
Poor Mr Softee subsequently started going blind. He has a condition called Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which means he has gradually become totally blind. He copes amazingly well. During busy times he has a large enclosure he stays in with some friends, and then when we are quiet he still roams around the farm. Be it from memory or from his senses he moves around as if he can see perfectly. Every evening he can be seen doing his rounds of the farm, usually along the top of a fence,.
Who needs to see to get around?
Huggy Bear is wonderful. He originally came to us a totally wild and ferocious adult tomcat. The staff christened him 'The Black Mamba' after Africa's deadliest snake because when he first arrived he was so aggressive and fierce they were frightened to go into his cage with him. Now fully converted he is extra soppy and has been renamed 'Huggy Bear'. He is one of the first to run and greet you when you walk into the stable yard, although he doesn't like noisy visitors or people mobbing him. One of the Spiders (two identical little black cats we have that we named Spyone and Spytoo because when they came they were wild and terrified and scurried around like little black spiders) has a huge crush on Huggy and is always found loyally following him round watching him adoringly.
Figgy is another cat who came in as a fully grown wild tomcat. He also had to be trapped like a wild animal to bring him here. He arrived still in the trap and exploded when you went near, hissing and spitting and striking out at you. Having come from an area that had packs of stray dogs roaming around he was terrified of our dogs. We put him in an enclosure near to all the daily activity and let him watch all around him. He is now a completely changed character. You have to be careful when you walk around the stables because the odds are he will wrapped around your feet asking for a back rub. From panicking at the sight or sound of dogs he has now become the most ardent dog lover on the farm; Ketu and Thatha are his two special friends.
Both Figgy and Huggy have been very educational for us, because often people think that an adult wild cat can only be tamed to a certain extent and no more. These two have gone from completely wild to soppy and affectionate, demanding attention when they see you and following you around as you go about your daily chores. All it needed was a bit of time and understanding, allowing them to watch the other animals and pick up the vibe of life here on the farm from them. Both are still sensitive and don't like crowds or lots of noise, but do love human company. Just being around all the other animals and the atmosphere of the farmyard was all they needed for them to understand.
Ratcat is yet another from our little group of black cats. She originally came here in a bad way. Once we had stabilised her we found her a wonderful home and she was there for a few years but then she sadly lost her owner. It was all very traumatic and upsetting for her and there was a moment when it looked like she was going to disappear into the wild. Luckily we managed to find her and bring her home to Nyanza; she is now settled and happy again.
And so the list goes on.
Our cats are all lovely and each one has their own unique character. Some of them are stunningly beautiful and look as if they could have come from exclusive backgrounds. Everyday they are living proof of what wonderful friendships you can get from those who the world has given up on.
We have our own little pack of dogs here. The number varies depending on the current intake, but at the moment it includes a German Shepherd, an Australian Cattle Dog, a Labrador cross, two Rough Collies, four Border Collies, and an assortment of mixed Collie crosses and Africanis dogs. A number of our dogs have also come from unhappy backgrounds. Some of them were very sick and had been ill treated. Now they are wonderful loyal companions and add to the joy of our daily life.
These are the stories of just a few of them...
Our five collies were all part of a group of six that came in that we had not planned on acquiring, but who rather found us because they were in desperate need of help. They were sick, malnourished and dreadfully unhappy, with little trust in humans.
Wriggles is a beautiful highly strung Border Collie who was very nervous of people when she came. She was so frightened it was difficult to get near her. Now she craves attention and follows those who she takes a liking to, trying to be as close as she can to them. She is very sharp and alert and loves to run alongside the horses when we go out into the countryside.
Duma and Tara were both tiny puppies, both of whom were very weak and suffering badly from malnutrition when they arrived. There were originally three puppies when we found them, but unfortunately the third did not even live long enough to get to Nyanza; he died on the way. Tara was in a very bad state as well and we did not expect her to live but she fought way her way back to life. Unfortunately by the time she was a year old she had had to have the femur heads of both her hips amputated as her joints were so bad her hips kept dislocating. She came through the two operations with courage and now watching her flying across the paddocks in pursuit of her brother no-one would believe what she has been through. The only hint you have now of her bad start is her size; she looks like a miniature Border Collie, probably as a result of the malnutrition.
Gemmi is the mother of Duma and Tara and so endlessly grateful for the new chance at life here at Nyanza. She is desperately loyal and affectionate. Her Border Collie roots show sometimes; she can spend hours focussed on a mother hen and her little flock of chicks, trying to keep them together and safe.
Winta and Ketu, like the two Tonkinese cats, are the only two dogs we have at the moment that were deliberately brought in. We have always had German Shepherds at Nyanza and after our previous generation passed away from old age we felt we had to have at least one here.
Winta is our Australian Cattle Dog. Her mother was a proper working dog but unfortunately Winta has not yet learnt the full routine. Occasionally you will see the whole herd of cows heading at the gallop in the wrong direction; they think it is great fun. She is incredibly clever and tough and oh so quick to find mischief if not kept busy. She has a great sense of humour and keeps everyone on their toes...
Ketu is a handsome German Shepherd, a wonderful good natured dog who enjoys meeting dog lovers as they come down our driveway. Although he is now officially an adult he is still a puppy at heart and enjoys bouncing around teasing the others. He loves children and is a huge favourite with them, often to be found upside down having his tummy tickled by an adoring child.
Becky, Thatha, Effel, Reg, Bruce, BP and Ash tragically lost their owner, Ann's brother. Adult dogs are hard to home and we did not want to break up the family so they came to live with us as part of our pack. After the trauma of losing their owner they have adjusted and fitted in very well and now enjoy the variety of life and all the visitors here on the farm. Thatha is a Labrador cross, Becky a Rough Collie, and the others mixed proportions of Collie, German Shepherd, and Africanis.
Alec is a wonderfully loveable little spotty dog with immense character. His breeding is unknown but he definitely looks as if he has at least some Dalmatian and Whippet blood in him. He came from South Africa after being found running down the middle of a large busy highway at night. He is a lucky dog: a kind passerby braved all the traffic and caught him. Despite advertising extensively for his owner no one turned up, possibly due to the fact his tail was freshly docked, which is now illegal in SA. He has fitted in amazingly well on the farm having extremely high energy and takes great delight in running and playing for hours on end. The other dogs are remarkably tolerant of him and indulge all his games and high speed chases as he wears them out one by one. With his charming personality he is a favourite with all who meet him.
These are just some of our lovely animals. A few were brought in deliberately but the majority found us. Some came from dreadful circumstances that we rescued ourselves or were brought in by friends, others came from shelters because they were at the end of their time, but all give us endless pleasure and repay us in so many ways for taking them in.
So often shelter animals are passed by and thousands are put down because they don't find homes. Many of the beautiful animals seen above came to us from animal welfare societies or other shelters because they had run out of time and were facing a lethal injection. There is no way to describe the feeling of gratification you can get from being with these pets who are so affectionate and happy, and know if it was not for you they would have been dead.
If everyone just adopted at least one shelter animal, so many could be saved.
If you are a 'purebred' person, there are Rescue organisations for many breeds with purebred animals waiting for adoption. Failing that, if you buy your pet from a breeder why not consider a shelter pet as companion for it? You can make a difference.
For those who live in a town house and are reluctant to have a cat going out on the streets... why not adopt a blind cat? So many are put down but they can make wonderful companions... they adapt very well and you don't have to feel bad about not letting them play outdoors. Your home is probably the only chance they will have. We have had five blind cats now and they have all managed very well, needing only a little extra care.
If you live in Swaziland or nearby, SAWS (Swaziland Animal Welfare Society) have always got lovely dogs and cats, just as beautiful and with wonderful personalities like the ones we have, waiting and hoping to be adopted and loved. Please consider them if you need a pet... you can check out their website or find them on their Facebook page. For those far from us please try your local shelter when you want a pet.
You will be rewarded by a true friend.